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The undiscovered novel under my bed

(11 Posts)
CharitySchmarity Thu 17-Oct-19 10:15:48

I've decided to try to rework a novel I wrote about 16 years ago when my children were little. It's a sort of romantic comedy. A few people have read it and liked it, and I still think it's quite well plotted and has some good ideas in it. But the only agent I ever sent it to sent it back with a one-line, very dismissive comment.

Talking to a writer friend recently inspired me to try to do something with it. There were two main things I needed to change about it - one was an actual plot point in the hero's back story which I now feel was possibly unintentionally offensive to a minority group. I've changed some details about the person who had let him down - it was not massively important to the story what kind of person they were, just that he had been deceived and it had shaken his confidence. The replacement character is really beginning to "come to life" for me, and suggesting some interesting flashbacks, so that's been a positive change.

The other thing was just to bring it up to date. When I first wrote it, I didn't use a mobile phone regularly (I accept I must have been one of the last people to fully embrace it) and didn't use social media at all. I write about what I know, so my characters were sometimes stranded without any means of getting in touch with each other, or someone who hadn't seen her friends for ages had no idea what any of them had been getting up to, that sort of thing. It's more difficult to solve that one - the specific situations where the lack of contact is important can be explained by saying that there was no signal in the area or someone's phone was out of battery/credit, but I feel like technology would be an everyday part of these characters' lives now (most of them are in their 20s or 30s). I'm trying to go through each chapter and see where a brief reference to something like "checking her messages" would fit in. I don't want it to be obvious that I'm an oldish writer making a conscious effort to be down with the kids!

Would anyone like to help me by, if I post some specific examples of things I need to change, saying whether they sound natural?

Sicario Thu 17-Oct-19 10:24:34

Maybe you could join a local writing group? You might find some camaraderie and lots of opportunity to discuss your work.

Scarlett555 Thu 17-Oct-19 10:55:40

Send it to the literary consultancy. They were fantastic in providing a 30 page report of feedback for my novel. They will also flag if the book has commercial potential or what you would need to change to make it commercial. If so, they will put you in touch with an agent once you've finessed it. Worth every penny:

https://literaryconsultancy.co.uk

CharitySchmarity Thu 17-Oct-19 11:02:36

Ooh, thanks for that, Scarlett - sounds very useful! I will wait until I've finished this round of revisions as I've already started, but they look worth getting in touch with.

Sicario I was in one years ago and the mix of people wasn't very helpful for me (one published writer of extremely formulaic Westerns, who didn't like anything anyone wrote that didn't conform exactly to his personal rules, and a lot of people who mainly wrote poetry). But I'm in a different town now and I haven't looked into writers' groups for a while - now that I'm on a writing "roll" again, it would be a good time to do it. Thank you for the reminder!

IndefatigableMouse Thu 17-Oct-19 12:57:14

Just a single comment - if you send out to agents don't get discouraging if you are rejected by one. Get discouraged if you only get silence from 50 of them.

They can reject for so many reasons, you can't assume it's definitely the writing. They simply might not have been a good match for you.

Sicario Thu 17-Oct-19 15:52:48

Pontificating men who think they're the next Tolstoy is occupational hazard I guess!

Sunshineboo Thu 17-Oct-19 15:55:48

Or you could set it in the 90's. It is a fashionable
Decade - a few Brit pop references and it will not need the social media and Mobile refs

CharitySchmarity Thu 17-Oct-19 17:40:30

@Sunshineboo you don't think there would need to be a reason for it to be set in the 90s? The characters' actual problems are pretty timeless, it's not like they're on opposite sides in a historic war or something.

Sunshineboo Thu 17-Oct-19 18:08:43

Hi - no not at all. A lot of historical novels Have no particular reason for being set when they are.

People you didn't lift through the night it will be probably quite interested in how we lived without mobile phones et cetera.

You could always build in a thread that is typical. For example, attending a big concert like Knebworth oasis, going to one of the festivals like early V festival, Princess Diana's death and all the reaction from it, new Labour gettin in power and the National mood etc etc

90's were a gem of a decade to my teenage yes

Sunshineboo Thu 17-Oct-19 18:11:46

Sorry horrid spelling!

Hi - no not at all. A lot of historical novels Have no particular reason for being set when they are.

People who did not live through the 90's will be probably quite interested in how we lived without mobile phones, social media et cetera.

You could always build in a thread that is typical of the age. For example, attending a big concert like Knebworth oasis, going to one of the festivals like early V festival, a major news story, Princess Diana's death and all the reaction from it, new Labour getting in power and the National mood etc etc

90's were a gem of a decade to my teenage eye

Heronry Thu 17-Oct-19 23:17:00

I agree about setting it pre-mobiles. It’s not a matter of throwing in some references to texting, it’s whether mobiles are going to ‘solve’ things in your plot you don’t want solved?

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